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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 2917

Iraq and Syria


Mr HOWARTH (Petrie) (14:24): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister please update the House on Australia's support to the international coalition to defeat ISIL in Mosul and Raqqa?


Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:24): I thank the member for Petrie for his question and I acknowledge his concern about the threat posed by terrorist organisations, like ISIL, which have attracted support from radicalised extremists from many countries, including Australia.

United States-backed fighters in Syria have launched an operation, Euphrates Rage, to seize ISIL's de facto capital of Raqqa, in Syria. This morning, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter welcomed the commencement of this operation by the Syrian defence forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab armed groups, declaring that the operation 'marks the next step' in the international coalition campaign to defeat ISIL. The Australian government also welcomes the commencement of this campaign, which comes as the military operation to liberate Mosul in Iraq enters its fourth week. By taking Mosul and Raqqa away from ISIS control, the false narrative of ISIL's self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate will be destroyed. However, like the operation to liberate Mosul, we know that seizing Raqqa will be difficult and dangerous and will take time.

Australia continues to play a critical role in both Iraq and Syria as a significant contributor to the international counter-ISIL campaign. In Iraq, Australian Defence Force personnel are providing vital support to the Iraqi security forces throughout the Mosul offensive. Australian aircraft continue to conduct air strikes and provide enabling air support around Mosul; Australian special forces are advising and assisting the Iraqi counter-terrorism service, which is spearheading the Mosul offensive; and Australian forces are continuing their training of Iraqi security units as part of our building partner capacity mission. In Syria, Australian planes and personnel are conducting air operations against ISIL targets in eastern Syria, including in the vicinity of Raqqa.

Australia's military support in Iraq and Syria is in addition to the critical humanitarian assistance we are providing in response to the conflicts. Australia has committed humanitarian and stabilisation assistance in both the Iraq and Syria crises which now stands at over $500 million. This has contributed to providing support to millions of people fleeing the conflicts and the horrors and the depravity of ISIL.

Australia remains committed to the global effort to defeat ISIL and other terrorist organisations, and these are organisations that directly threaten our communities by radicalising and training potential terrorists from our country. We will continue our fight to keep our people safe.